An expert team report exposes highly dangerous pollution inflicted by a chemical plant on the environment of Sayala in Gujarat
MARDIA Chemicals Ltd (MCL) of Gujarat
has been producing H-, J- and K-acids,
tobaid acid, vinyl sulphone, dye intermediates and sulphuric acid since
January 1991, with what are suspected
to be 'second-hand imported plants.
Reports of pollution by the plant
poured in 1991 itself.
Complaints of air, water and ground
water pollution reached the Gujarat
Ecology Commission (GEC) right from
1992. The Ghc referred the complaints
to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board
(GPCB), with no results. More complaints led the GEC to knock at the
Central Pollution Control Board's
doors, which in turn referred back to the
GPCB which said that pollution in Sayala
was well within limits.
Flooded by further complaints, the
GEC finally appointed an independent
expert team comprising P R Ghare
Khan, former GICB member secretary
and R C Trivedi, former chairperson,
GPCB, in March 1995. The team visited
the MCL premises at Sayala taluka
(Surendranagar district), and met
factory officials and villagers from
Sitagarh and Sorimbhada.
Some of the significant findings of the
The company is operating without the
necessary No Objection Certificate and
consent from the GPCB.
Although the factory started production in January 1991, the consent order
for non-naphthalene-based products
was issued in January 1995 - four years
When production commenced, there
was no effluent treatment plant.
Till March end 1995, the factory had
not even applied for hazardous wastes
disposal authorisation from the GPCB. It
appeared that no initiative has been
taken by the factory in this regard.
The treated effluent quality does
not confirm to the stipulated GPCB
Air pollution is very significant.
No disaster management plan - Off
site and on site - appears to have been
prepared by the factory. No environment impact statement and environment management plan have been
The team concluded that:
The industrial complex, being located
in a land-locked area, has no natural
point for waste water disposal.
Sayala falls in the semi-arid zone
having a rocky strata. The factory, the
only one in the area, daily uses 1,700-
1,800 cu m of fresh water through 22
The MCL'S water requirements is very
high. Groundwater has already been
The steadily falling groundwater table
is getting polluted due to chemical
It seems that geological and hydroiogical aspects of the terrain had not been
surveyed carefully by the government
while permitting the MCL to instal its
plants. The rocky area has fissures that
facilitate permeation of polluted water.
The site is in the catchment area of
Bhogavo river, upstream of Nayaka and
Dholiclhaja reservoirs. There is the possibility of contamination of these reservoirs spelling disastrous consequences.
Even as the expert team recommended that no further expansions or
diversifications be permitted at the site,
some new units were inaugurated at the
site in December 1995, in the presence
of none other than Prern Shankar Bhatt,
the then GPCB chairman.
Bharat Pathak, director of the GEC,
said ruefully, "The GPCB is just an eyewash. It is not adequately empowered to
monitor or act in such cases."
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